Recommendation on a new deer rifle for a beginner


May 30, 2009, 09:25 PM
I have been hunting a couple of times years back with a borrowed rifle, and I am now finally getting back into it again this year. Its been awhile. I am new too rifles also!!

I am in central, AR. The land is sloped a lot, with open fields where they came in a cut timber, etc. There is also a lot of woods, but the stands are set up to hunt the clearings. Some places are clear for up to approx. 200 yards. Doub I'd be shooting a deer from that far away. My friend suggests a 270, weatherby 300, or a 7mag.

I think I have decided on a bolt action 270. Don't exactly know why a 270, but I think it is because the ammo is more readily available and its a caliber I am familiar with. I am on a budget with this gun too (maybe stay under $500 and prefer new).

What is the best bang for the buck for a guy on a budget and also just getting back into the sport?

I have looked at the:
Remington 770
Marlin XL7 (same thing as Stevens?)
Mossburg 100 ATR

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May 30, 2009, 09:32 PM
Personally, I would look at a 7mm-08 Rem in a Stevens Model 200 or Marlin XS-7... both arond $300 new. Add a decent scope and you're in for around your budget with money for ammo. Or the venerable 30-06 Sprg is always an option.

Marlin XL7 (same thing as Stevens?)

No... see my comparison...

A tale of Two Budget Rifles (

May 30, 2009, 09:32 PM
Your friend suggests a .300 mag or a 7mm mag for deer? Your friend doesn't like you, did you scratch his car or something? Or date his sister?

Seriously though, 30-30 would be fine in a lever-action, or anything .30/06 or below in a bolt action. .270 would be fine, also...

May 30, 2009, 09:34 PM
LOL Billy. He says he likes a gun with a little power in it.

May 30, 2009, 09:35 PM
Check out a Weatherby. For the money I don't think they can be beat as far as strength and accuracy goes.

Also look at the 7mm-08, its my all time favorite deer round.

May 30, 2009, 09:36 PM
A 270 is perfect for deer at those ranges and more and if you ever get the chance will work for elk also. The Savage package guns usually come in around 400 and shoot great. The scope is not the best but will get you started and can upgrade later. Both of my kids started with one in 243. Still using the original scope 6 years later.

May 30, 2009, 09:37 PM
In all honesty, for the size deer y'all have down here, a .243 Win would be plenty... and the recoil would be minimal... but hey, it's your shoulder... LOL

May 30, 2009, 09:37 PM
Hey two votes for the 7mm-08! Hell yea.

May 30, 2009, 09:38 PM
If a Marlin 336 .30-30 really isn't enough, then I second the vote for a Stevens 200 in 7mm-08. Remington makes a great managed recoil load in 7-08 that has more power than the .30-30 with less recoil and from personal experience it performs better on deer at closer range than the full power load.

May 30, 2009, 09:40 PM

then I second the vote for a Stevens 200 in 7mm-08.

You mean third???? :D I suggested it first... :neener: :neener: :neener: :cool:

Nelson concurred... then you... but hey... all hail the 7mm-08 Rem... LOL

May 30, 2009, 09:43 PM
Try to find an ol' Remington Model 788 in a 243. You'll be good to go.

Dallas Jack
May 30, 2009, 10:07 PM
I vote for a Weatherby Vanguard ($399.00) in .243 or 7-08.

Dallas Jack

Jacka L Ope
May 30, 2009, 10:15 PM
Wouldn't overlook the 25-06. Flat shooter. Fine for deer.

May 30, 2009, 10:52 PM
"...same thing as Stevens?..." Stevens rifles are made by Savage. Not bad for the money. Look into a Savage Model 114 Classic too. Mind you, any commercial hunting rifle in .270 will do nicely. Some just cost more than others.
Don't scrimp on the scope. The Savage packages come with a low end but serviceable scope, but like hunter25 says, you can up grade later.

May 30, 2009, 11:26 PM
for a budget entry rifle, with great bang for the buck, and you can get them with scopes allready on them as well, I consider these three to be tops.
next i would throw in a Mossberg atr.
As for the 270, this will be all the deer rifle caliber you will ever need, all your life. 7mag or 300 is
just plain overkill.

May 31, 2009, 12:00 AM
Yeah, I agree with the above comments. I think the first deer rifle I buy my children will be either:

Savage Package .270
Marlin 336 .30-30

If you want something more high-powered for possible future bigger game, I would suggest the "venerable .30-06" (as mentioned above) for versatility and availability. I don't see much .300 or 7mag on the ammo shelves these days.

May 31, 2009, 12:01 AM
sorry, double post

Uncle Mike
May 31, 2009, 12:10 AM
I think I have decided on a bolt action 270. Don't exactly know why a 270, but I think it is because the ammo is more readily available and its a caliber I am familiar with. I am on a budget with this gun too (maybe stay under $500 and prefer new).

What is the best bang for the buck for a guy on a budget and also just getting back into the sport?
The 270 win. is a great choice. You'll not be undergunned, yea, and you won't be able to use the 'I hit em' but he didn't go down' excuse either.:neener:

Savage 111-Blue metal, black synthetic accustock

Stevens 200- Bule metal, grey thermo-plastic stock

Howa, several configurations(caution, made in japan, if you prefer to buy American)

May 31, 2009, 12:41 AM
.270 is one of those 'Karma' rounds where you can do things with them you aren't supposed to be able to do.

For deer hunting, it's just AWESOME!
Redly accurate out to 200 or 300 yards with soda straw thin barrels,
Shoots flat as can be,
And the bullet carries enough energy to do the job when it gets there!

Just a GREAT all around white tail gun!

Remember, the .270 is a necked down .30-06 round...
Long action rifles are inherently less accurate since the longer cutaway action twists more when firing.
I'm not sure it will matter with a light weight barrel hunting rifle in 'Mountain Hunting Trim'...

But that is the only draw back I can think of unless you decide to hunt outside of the country... Then acquiring ammo can be a pain outside of the US.

Don't rule out shorter actions, like the 7mm-08 Remington.
About the same deal, but with a shorter action, so the action is inherently more accurate...

Again, with thin barrel and light weight stock, it's probably not an issue with a 'Mountain Hunting' rifle.

7mm-08 is a necked down .308 Winchester cartridge case, and just like it's 'Big Brother' (.270) it's hyper accurate hunting round that will SERIOUSLY get the job done!

Then there are the old .30 caliber standby rifles,
The .30-06 and .308 Winchester.

They have virtually IDENTICAL muzzle velocities, and bullet weights/trajectories, but the argument will continue to rage for many years past this one which one is 'BEST' for hunting...
(and I'm not going there!)

I have hunted outside the country, and both .308 and .30-06 ammo is available most places if that will ever be an issue.
One thing about any caliber the military used or uses,
there is TONS of load data out there,
Everybody makes something for them, and most of it works,
And you can even buy optics with ACCURATE bullet drop scale etched right into it.

Resale value is always good on military calibers, plus you get to waste 'Cheap Surplus' ammo for plinking and target practice.

Some people like .243 rifles for White Tail deer, but I'm not one of them.
I don't like a .243 for much of anything other than coyotes, and I hunt more varmints than just coys...

No matter what anyone says, .223 Remington is just too light for robust white tail deer.

I'm sure I'm going to take some heat on this opinion from people that HAVE dropped a white tail with a .223,
You *CAN* make loads that will RELIABLY & HUMANLY put a white tail down, but they don't usually have them at Wally-World and you often have to modify the rifle to shoot 'Long & Heavy' hand loads...

Here is a bit of information that might help you save some BIG bucks...

There is no substitute for Leupold.
If you take a look around at a bunch of PROFESSIONAL GUIDES & HUNTERS, you will see 3 Leupolds for every other type of optic you see,
Or have a look around at any given rifle match,
You will see about 1/2 using Leupold, and the other half using a mix of this and that.

That should tell you something about Leupold.

Burris is about 2/3 the optic Leupold is, but Burris is accurate and rugged... And about 1/2 the price.

I don't shoot in 'Meters' so I don't want an optic that is ranged in 'Meters'... I need YARDS!

Stick with about a FIXED 6X or so...
It will save you money, give you a GREAT field of view,
and when hunting, you don't have time for all the gimmicks and gadgets on optics now...

Just 'Point Blank Zero' your 4x or 6x optic at 200 yards...
At 200 yards, you can aim dead on from 50 to 300 yards without hold over or under...

If you zero at 200 yards,
The bullet will be about 1" high at 100 yards,
The bullet will be Dead on at 200 yards,
The bullet will be about 2" low at 300 yards.
Still PLENTY ACCURATE to blow the heart out of a white tail without having to try and figure bullet drop and all that jazz...

And a reasonably LOW (4X or 6X) power optic will give you a much LARGER field of view so you can see what's going on downrange and behind the deer,
And still provide you with PLENTY of magnification for great shots at your self professed 200 to 300 yards!
(saves you a TON of money on high powered optics too!)

I try and stay away from 'Click' type optics adjustments in hunting optics...
I like the low turret (doesn't snag on everything in the bush)
And I like the friction type adjusters since sometimes you just don't want a full 1/4 or 1/3 MOA at 200 yards.
Friction adjusters allow you to 'FINE TUNE' the optics better than 'Click' type in my opinion...
(I'm sure the 'Fan Boys' are going to make a big fuss about that statement too, but I'm a hunter with 40+ years experience, and that is what works best for me and most other long time hunters I know)

I have taken about every kind of large north American game you can think of, Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, White Tail, ect.
And you OFTEN wind up with only a momentary shot situation where you walk up on or jump up the game.
This is where a reasonably low powered, fixed power optic really shines!

You know that whitetail will hesitate before it throws up the flag and bolts, and if you have a hunting optic with more switches and knobs than the space shuttle...
The deer is going to be laughing at you all afternoon!

If you have an optic you can make for a fast, or even MOVING shot, you take Venison home!

Just some things to think about...

May 31, 2009, 10:41 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies! I have a few things to think about after this discussion, but I feel better about it using everyone's knowledge that has been shared here. I think I am well on my way to buying my first rifle sometime this summer!!

May 31, 2009, 11:39 AM
I'd go with

1) 243
2) 25-06
3) 270
4) 30-30
5) 30-06
or either 257's

It sounds like Savage is now the way to go for hunting rifles. I've had my same 30.06 for about 12 years, Rem 700. Its awesome, and its the only high powered rifle that I will own. Its killed deer out to 300 yds, its killed a few pigs, only one ran more than 30 yds (with vital shots).

All in all, I'd get some 30.06, hard to beat it for the best all around rifle, that, and you can find Winchester Super X power point 150gr at just about any gas station in that part of the world (the south)

May 31, 2009, 11:58 AM

Earlier it was said: "Try to find an ol' Remington Model 788 in a 243. You'll be good to go." I'll just amend that to a 788 in 6mm Remington. The 6mm is everything that the .243 wants to be when it grows up. Seriously, the .243 is based on the .308 cartridge case & the 6mm is based on the 7 X 57mm Mauser. Therefore the 6mm has a bit more powder capacity and a longer neck. Which means the heavier hunting bullets don't have to go down into the case & rob powder space. Also, the combination has produced many outstandingly accurate examples.

When my son turned 16, quite a while ago now, I bought him a modern action turn-bolt in 6.5 X 55mm Mauser as his first center fire hunting gun. As with the 6mm, you get mild recoil and stellar accuracy. However, the 6.5 provides the ability to use far heavier bullets than the .243/6mm/.25's. You could do a lot worse than to pick one up. I don't know if it's in your budget, but I'd at least go look at both the CZ550 and the Tikka T-3 in 6.5 Swede. Both are quality guns that won't put most folks in debt. If I remember correctly, there used to be a couple of decent gun shops in Searcy & between the two you could find both Tikkas & CZ's.

By the way, before my dad passed on, he lived in Searcy. I've been down that way more than a couple of times & do know the type of territory there. I think the Swede would do you very well for the game, the gun, and the conditions.


Uncle Mike
May 31, 2009, 12:13 PM
Long action rifles are inherently less accurate since the longer cutaway action twists more when firing.

About the same deal, but with a shorter action, so the action is inherently more accurate...

Hahaha... ONLY in bunny labs, shot by zombie scientists. It does hold some sort of merit, but so does your chance of getting hit by lightening.

I think there might be a whole slew of competitors at Camp Perry that just might disagree with this one... the 30-06 never did shoot very well, set any records, nor did the 6mm-284's(medium length), 300 Win mags..... this could go on forever...

Now I know we can break out the engineering books, strain gauges and such, but for this guys purpose, let us not confuse him any more than we have to.

For his purpose... a hunting rifle, any length action will be spot on.

And all this 'point blank zero ' stuff. Come on, the .270 shoots flat enough that he can zero at 200y and hold center mass from 50y to 400y and rest assured that animal will be switched of, right there, right then. As TeamRush said.

The only advice I might say is to not get one of those heavy barrels rigs, for ranges you'll be wacking deer and such at, there will be zero advantage other than you bulking up a bit from lugging that hunk o' iron around the country side.

May 31, 2009, 12:24 PM
The 270 Winchester is a excellent choice for what you are after. You may also want to check out the Tikka T3 rifle as they are light weight and usually excellent shooters.

one eye joe
May 31, 2009, 12:32 PM
I would look seriously at the Howa/Vanguard. WalMart at some locations has the Vanguard on sale for $325. Try to beat that with anything! Savage makes a great shooting ugly rifle. Stay away from the Remington 710/770 as they aren't too highly thought of. Most any caliber from .25 up will serve your purpose.

Arkansas Paul
May 31, 2009, 12:39 PM
IMO the best bang for the buck is weatherby vangaurd. I have one in .30-06 and love it. Great out of the box accuracy and only paid $390. It is available in .270 as well if that's what you're set on.

Uncle Mike
May 31, 2009, 12:46 PM
Savage makes a great shooting ugly rifle.

hehehehe... that's why they call him 'one eye joe'... sorry joe.:neener:

The older, and yes, some models of even the new Savages are not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as say a Browning but... darn do they shoot accurate, right out of the box, no action job, bolt machining, new barrels, ect.. needed... just unbox that sucker and shoot it. ;)

The Brownings and Vanguards, they are excellent rifles... let me post my anti japan rant... (these fine rifles are made in japan, just in case you prefer to buy American):D

All of em' are going to do you well, sands the new Remingtons... and really they are not all that bad, they just cost waaaay too much for the quality and accuracy you'll get from them... IMO Only
(remember opinions are like sphincters... everbody has one... and most of them stink!) :neener:

Peace :D

May 31, 2009, 04:37 PM
Just checked out a Savage 110 270 with accutrigger at wally world. Very nice gun in my opinion, and that trigger felt really good to me! Wow!

The remington 770 is pure junk, never mind me even thinking about that gun. The bolt slides like crap!

They had a Weatherby Vanguard 300, and the man said wally world has quit selling Weatherby by the way. It was a nice gun, but the Savage felt better to me. I'm leaning towards the Savage so far. I'll be heading out to a gun shop in about a week or so to look at some other guns.

May 31, 2009, 05:10 PM

I'll absolutely second Uncle Mike's postion. First, prove you can outshoot the capability of a good long action before even raising the subject. Let's face it, the extremely vast majority of shooters in the U.S. today can't do that very thing. So, for that vast majority, it's a moot point. Nonsense to bring it up.


May 31, 2009, 11:23 PM
CZ can not be beat! I bought the 6.5x55 swede last year as my deer hunting rifle and it performed GREAT! You can not go wrong with it! And you will love the single set triggers CZ puts on their 550's!

May 31, 2009, 11:32 PM
I hunt in South Arkansas and my go to deer gun is Reminton 7400 in .270 Win. I have two Remmy 700s, one in 7mm mag and a SPS tactical in 308
They both way outshoot my .270 at the range but when hunting it hits where i am aiming. Shooting tiny groups in paper is cool at the range but i cant do it in the woods.
I would however avoid getting a 243. Both my cousin and buddy shoot 243. The deer they shoot dont go far but there is seldom any blood to trail despite the total carnage on the inside of the animal.
If i were to get a new deer gun it would be a Tikka in .270

May 31, 2009, 11:49 PM
I would skip the mossy 100. All of them that I have seen have had poor stock bedding. I've shot one in .243 and .308. Savage and Howa are a better value IMHO. I love my Tikka T3 but that would be at the top of your budget. As for caliber I use a .308 but I only could afford one rifle for everything. A .243 or .270 would be just fine.

June 1, 2009, 12:34 AM
The biggest problem I have with Remington 'Mountian Rifles' is they have CRAP plastic stocks that do WEIRD STUFF...
They are just TOO flimsy.
Rem 700 has EASY trigger adjustments,
And everyone makes stuff for them if you don't like this or that...

The Winchester model 70's have a MUCH better synthetic stock on them (Light Weight 'Mountian Rifle' versions) but the action/trigger needs a little work.

The RUGER "ALL WEATHER" is a great buy and makes for as good of Mountian Hunting Rifle as you will ever hope to find.
Not real pricey, easy to work on, accurate out of the box, and you can't beat Ruger for reliability.
I have a Ruger 'All Weather' I've packed for several years, and it's NEVER let me down.

Savage makes some really fine hunting rifles now, but I'm not real familiar with the product line, specifically the thin barrel, light weight versions.
Savage is also a snap to change barrels in.
You will find lots of 'Professional Hunters' and Guides carrying Savage since you can change barrels in a SNAP, and don't have to lug around 4 different rifles for one hunt.
As long as you choose bolt face sizes that are the same for your different rounds, the barrel literally takes less than 2 minutes to change!
(last trip to Alaska, I hunted antlers, bear and wolf on the same trip, so I took two rifles.)

Since this is your FIRST rifle,

1.I would suggest something made in the US,
And I would suggest something COMMON,
So if you don't like it, out grow it, decide to hunt something different, it wasn't super expensive to buy, and not super hard to sell if you want something different.
US made means there will be spare parts for ages to come, and everyone will support your rifle with aftermakret goodies.

Don't dive off into the strange or hard to find or handloads only calibers....

Stay above a .25 caliber bullet,
But stay out of the 'Magnum' calibers.
The word 'Magnum' means "Clean out your wallet just to increase the recoil and likely hood of missing your game"
People have been doing just fine with 7mm-08, .270, .308, .30-06 ect. for years, and there is no sense in trying to fix what isn't broke with your first hunting rifle!

Between .25 & .30 caliber will just flat knock down virtually anything this side of grizzly and moose without problems...
No sense creating problems for yourself.

3. Find a local gun shop with STOOLS or chairs sitting around, and hang out a while...
Find the guys that actually HUNT (Somewhere besides 'Hunting' spots on the internet to post up crap) and find out what they use.

Personally, I have two Tikka rifles, but I don't hunt with them, too expensive and nice to beat up.
I look for some synthetic stock that doesn't matter how bad I scratch it up while it's riding in the truck or getting dragged across rocks, banged on trees, used to hold back sticker bushes,
Stainless action that's easy cleaning and I can paint camo or black,
Barrel with good, clean edges on the rifling and a good, smooth, well burnished bore (or I clean the crap out of it and break-in/burnish the barrel myself),
And I go hunting!

Hunting isn't about who has the best designer name in camo or rifles, it's about putting down the animals cleanly, efficiently and humanely as possible.

Any Pro or guide will tell you, the 'Suit' with the $5,000 rifle is ALWAYS the one that needs the guide to put his animal down,
And the guy with military surplus camo and a beat up, but CLEAN rifle is the guy to put things down with one shot!

4. Take your newly acquired and set up rifle out where you normally hunt and set up some targets...
Get used to the things bullets do 'Up Hill' and 'Down Hill',
Figure out where the wind drafts are going to push things around from the gullies and hills you are shooting past.

NOTING, and I mean NOTHING means anything if you can't anticipate where that round is going to impact!
Shooting up and down hill will effect the effective gravity angle exerted on the bullet, even at two or three hundred yards...
And wind does some strange stuff to trajectories if you use small, light weight bullets...

For whitetail, stay around 150 grains with soft point or ballistic point (Controlled Expansion, you don't want a fragmented bullet)....
150 is a good compromise between knockdown power, penetration and wind bucking weight.

Some guys go with lighter, and it gets blown around and doesn't penetrate,
Some guys go with heavier and the bullet is too slow, so you get a lot of drop, and it OVER penetrates...
(In one side, out the other... If it exits the deer, you wasted bullet energy at the target.)

5. Something that IS NOT discussed enough is factory ammo.
There are some REALLY GOOD factory hunting ammo brands out there that will save you TONS of effort & money reloading or buying 'Specialty' rounds...

(Winchester firearms are made out of the country, but the ammo is made right in the USA)
And their 'Supreme' or Premium brand of bullets does a VERY GOOD JOB of being both accurate, and expanding to deliver the energy to the target.

Remington brand of ammo must be an afterthought for them, since it isn't really accurate or updated very often.

Federal Firearms is making some of the most accurate out of the box ammo and reloading components on the mass market side.
I am particularly fond of the 'Match' ammo, and the hunting ammo has done well for me on the occasions I've used it here and there.

Then there are the 'Specialty' makers,
Black Hills, Hornady, ect.
This ammo has a HUGE reputation, but in all actuality, I can't see much difference between it and the 'Premium' ammo that is much cheaper from the major players.
I keep trying a box of it here and a box of it there, but it's just not any really demonstrateable amount more accurate than the Premium or Match stuff from other places.

6. Like I said before, stick with LEUPOLD optics and stick with FIXED POWER optics!

This alone will save you gobs of cash and make for a MUCH more accurate platform in the long run!

If you REALLY want a challenge, you can pick up a Surplus Mosin-Nagant for about $80, and tinker with it yourself.
If you screw up, it's only $80 out the window if it's not repairable!
Mosin-Nagant is the forerunner to the .30-06 cartridge, so it has plenty of knock down power for whitetails,
They shoot pretty good, and synthetic stocks, optics mounts, ect. are reasonably priced.

IT will be a DIY challenge! But you can actually wind up with a very good hunting rifle out of the deal for dirt cheap!

June 1, 2009, 01:06 AM
The Tikka's, Brownings and Vanguards, they are excellent rifles... let me post my anti japan rant... (these fine rifles are made in japan, just in case you prefer to buy American):rolleyes:Tikka rifles are not made in Japan. Tikka rifles are is made in Finland.

Uncle Mike
June 1, 2009, 01:17 AM
The Tikka's, Brownings and Vanguards, they are excellent rifles... let me post my anti japan rant... (these fine rifles are made in japan, just in case you prefer to buy American)

Tikka rifles are not made in Japan. Tikka rifles are is made in Finland.

You are absolutely correct... my bad....:banghead:

No excuse, head up and locked. hehehe:D

Post changed to save face.... lol hehehe:neener:

Sorry bout' dat... and thank you-:D

June 1, 2009, 02:46 AM
I rescently bought a Tikka T3 270. Blued barrel and synthetic stock. I put a Leupold 4 x 33 scope on it in Matte finish. I used the Optilock extra low rings and bases. I use Federal Fusion 150 grain.

It is an incredible setup. Up to 200 yards I am consistantly getting killzone shots on a target.

Remember you don't have to be a sniper to go hunting! I'm not and I don't claim to be but for a descent price you can have a setup like mine and be prepared for 95% of the shots you'll ever take at any game.

A 270 will drop anything in North America at under 200 yards.

A 300 or 7mm mag are nice too but for the average hunter are usually unnecessary and your shouder will be in a lot more pain after an afternoon at the range.

I bigger bullet won't help if it goes in the wrong spot.

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